Google Glass, widely available in the US and Europe to anyone willing to spend $1500, is now getting some competition from a company other than Vuzix and Epson. The French company Optinvent is raising $100,000 for its ORA-1 eyewearable device in a recently launched Kickstarter campaign. By pledging as little as $300 on the crowdfunding site, you could be the first on your block to own the ORA-1.
Optinvent's device differs from Google's in numerous ways. The resolution and area of the display are significantly greater than Glass' prism. The display of the ORA-1 is also adjustable. It may be worn either in front of the eye -- where the projected image appears superimposed over the environment -- or the user may lower the display so that it is positioned just below the eye. The display on Glass is positioned above the eye.
The ability to superimpose projected images on the environment gives the ORA-1 a unique advantage over other eyewearable devices that do not have see-through displays. In providing this capability, Optinvent may be the only company enabling true augmented reality applications that allow developers to project data and images that augment the natural world seen by the user. Optinvent CEO Kayvan Mirzan calls this "AR mode" and refers to the setting below the eye as "glance mode."
"The ORA is the next logical step in mobility," Mirzan said. "It is the future wearable computing paradigm in the form of eyeglasses allowing truly unique hands-free mobile AR experiences. Most products in its class are either non see-through or are based on expensive and difficult to produce optics. Our team focused on changing all that. The ORA is the only see-through smart glasses based on a cost effective, scalable, and proven technology."
According to Optinvent, the ORA is the only smart glasses based on optical technology that is scalable for the consumer market and the most power efficient see-through tech available. The company is now working on miniaturizing it. The next version will be 60% smaller in terms of the required bulk of the projection optics. Other improvements planned by Optinvent include a 40% decrease in power consumption.
Google Glass may have a more solid, polished look-and-feel but the user pays hundreds of dollars for that. As for the display, the ORA-1 is already more advanced than Glass in terms of size and resolution. And for attracting developers to invent the next wave of augmented reality innovations to make smart glasses more powerful than handheld devices, Optinvent may have a significant edge.